Google and South African Tourism have partnered to launch an online exhibition that allows visitors to explore South Africa virtually. ‘South Africa: An Explorer’s…
2013 is almost over. Christmas is nearing and a lot of you might be thinking of buying gifts for your family, friends or yourselves. We, at GearBurn, are the gadget obsessed ones. We’ve worked hard to come up with a list of five brilliant gadgets and five gadgets to avoid so that you can buy the best ones and ignore the worst. The 10 best and worst gadgets listed here are either revolutionary or close to perfection.
1. Sony Xperia Z1
Many of you might be a little surprised here with my selection. Why Sony Xperia Z1 and why not Apple iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4? Because the Sony Xperia Z1 is one of the best jack-=of-all-trades that I’ve seen. It performs well, looks great and at the same time, is water-resistant, shatter resistant and dust proof. Its 1080p display might not be the best in the industry but its camera is second to only the Lumia 1020, that too just by a hairs width yet costs a lot less than Lumia 1020. On top of it, think about all the pool party or beach photos that you can click without damaging your phone. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 guts make it one of the fastest and smoothest performing smartphone ever and its 3000mAh battery means two days of normal usage. It’s well packed in terms of connectivity features with 4G LTE, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and Miracast screen mirroring. Even with all these features, it costs around US$650 which is much less than the Apple iPhone 5S price which is a little more expensive. This is one of the main reasons which helped Xperia Z1 in getting into this list. It is one of the most complete, well-rounded and well-priced flagship smartphone of 2013.
2. Sony RX-100 Mark II
Yet another Sony product in this list. I am not a fanboy but Sony is coming up with some really great products since the time Kazou Hirai stepped up as its CEO. The Sony RX-100 Mark II is the successor to the original RX-100. It uses a full 1″ sensor with the ability to shoot images at a maximum resolution of 20.2MP. Sony has improved upon already exceptional image quality with a tilting LCD screen and a multi-interface shoe at the top for connecting a variety of accessories. Images don’t suffer from any kind of noise even with ISO as high as 3200. An aperture of F/1.8 and optical zoom of 3.6x means great and shallow depth-of-field effect. It has built-in NFC and WiFi for sharing the images with others. It is also one of the best large sensor equipped compact cameras on sale right now.
3. Apple Macbook Air (Mid 2013)
The Apple Macbook Air (2013) now comes with an all new Intel Haswell processor, faster SSD storage and Mac OS X Mavericks. How much of a difference does the new Haswell chipset makes? Not much in processing performance gains but a lot in power efficiency and internal graphics performance. Macbook Air can be seen as a revolutionary laptop due to its marathon battery life. It can last over 12 hours on a single charge and Apple has set a really high standard for others. It comes with 1.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM and either 128GB or 256GB PCIe SSD storage. Although it may not have those full HD touch screens in other ultrabooks, it has industry leading keyboard and touchpad which makes a huge difference in operating the device. Combine it with ultrafast multi-purpose Thunderbolt port, Bluetooth v4.0, WiFi and MagSafe 2 power adapter, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
4. Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast is a wonderful gadget for its size and price. Its a small US$35 device which connects to TV screens or monitors through HDMI to mirror content from your smartphone or computer’s screen to the big screen through WiFi. Although as of now, it can show content from Chrome browser and a handful of other apps such as YouTube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music and Netflix, support for other popular apps is coming soon. Also, some intelligent devs have found code which shows that Google is planning to launch full screen mirroring from Android devices through Chromecast. This nifty little device is compatible with Android, iOS, PC and Mac devices and $35 is really an ultra-cheap price to pay for its features. Google Chromecast is a must buy gadget this Christmas if you don’t want to spend more than US$50.
5. Fitbit Force
Fitbit Force is an activity monitor that can track your workouts, runs, food intake and even your sleep cycles. Although it’s not a “smartwatch”, it does show time and date on its OLED display. Investing in Fitbit Force is a much better idea than investing in any smart watches available right now which are downright expensive and doesn’t add much value in your daily life. Fitbit Force can sync with Android or iPhone to display all your day-long activity in beautifully designed apps. I would’ve recommended Nike Fuelband SE over this if it had an Android app as well, but sadly, it doesn’t. Priced at US$129.99, it’s a must buy if you still haven’t invested in activity monitors or fitness trackers.
1. Samsung Galaxy Gear
One of the worst attempts from Samsung, the Galaxy Gear has a long list of disappointments, be it the steep price or its limited compatibility with Samsung’s own flagship smartphones. For what Samsung calls this device your “life companion”, it can only sync with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2013) as of now with no plans to expand the support to smartphones from other brands. It has a 1.6″ Super AMOLED screen that shows a notification that you’ve got a notification on your phone, clicking on this unlocks your smartphone for you to check out the actual notification. There’s a 1.9MP AF camera attached in the watchstrap so you have to pay for the camera if you want a different coloured strap. Its design is weird and battery life is on par with smartphones rather than competing with other smartwatches. The whole matter of owning it is one overpriced affair as you have to pay US$299 for the Galaxy Gear and excess of IS$600 for the Galaxy Note 3 which it is compatible with. There is no way any tech enthusiast will even remotely suggest that someone should buy this device.
2. HTC One Max
HTC One Max is a great example of the saying “Don’t try to fix things which aren’t broken”. HTC tried to compete with Xperia Z Ultra, Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5S in a single blow and failed terribly. One of the best features of HTC One’s camera, the OIS was removed and the fingerprint sensor at the back works only half of time. Most of the users will just smudge the camera lens in failed attempts to unlock the device. Also, the fingerprint sensor just unlocks the device, nothing more. Also, it’s too damn big at 5.9″. No HTC, this won’t do.
3. Sony Cyber-shot QX10/QX100
A novel idea executed badly. The Sony Cyber-shot QX10 and QX100 are smartphone accessories which will help you take better photos and give it optical zoom capabilities. Any Android device with WiFi Direct and Sony Play Memories installed can connect and control the QX10 and QX100. The whole process of connecting the accessory to a phone without NFC is real cumbersome and slow. The device has in-built memory card slot and even its own buttons for zooming and clicking images. When you click the image, it gets stored in the device as well as gets transferred to the phone from where you can share it on the internet or just save it. The worst part about these accessories is, the amount of lag that can be seen in camera’s live feed video. These accessories need a lot of improvement before they can actually be used without getting annoyed.
4. Acer Iconia W3
The Acer Iconia W3 is a cheaply priced 8″ Windows 8 based tablet with a dual-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB RAM and 2MP front and rear cameras. So what’s wrong with it? It’s the screen. It has a resolution of 1280×800 pixels which means that you can’t use Windows Snap feature to keep two apps side-by-side for real multitasking. And the screen performs horribly, so much so that you might feel you’ve time traveled ten years back in time. At a price of US$349, it’s bulky, heavy and not at all attractive.
Launched with much excitement, this Nvidia Tegra 3 based Android game console costs US$99. Its controllers have weird button labels. Its UI is fairly skinned but stock on most of the parts. So what’s bad? It runs Android v4.1 and isn’t designed to work perfectly on TV screens and the makers of Ouya haven’t worked to make it suitable enough. There are usability issues with its UI. There are too few games to actually consider Ouya as a gaming console, Nvidia Tegra 3 is outdated and most new games require more firepower than it has. We think you shouldn’t buy any Android based gaming console until Google brings in rumoured support for such devices with the release of Android v5.0 some time next year.